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The Comintern’s Great Turn of 1920-21: Part 2

September 8, 2020

Long Live the Communist International

The Third World Congress and Its Outcome

See also Part 1: “From Second World Congress to March Action

Table of Contents

Part 1: From Second World Congress to ‘March Action’

      1. 1920: Year of Great Hopes
      2. Four Historic Conventions
      3. The German Party Turns Left
      4. The ‘March Action’

Part 2: The Third World Congress and Its Outcome

      1. The Contending Forces Meet in Moscow
      2. Disputes over National Parties
      3. The Main Congress Debates
      4. Profile of a Compromise
      5. The Comintern Broadens Its Scope
      6. School of Strategy


“The Comintern’s Great Turn of 1920-21” is based on the Editorial Introduction for To the Masses: Proceedings of the Third Congress of the Communist International, 1921, published by Brill and Haymarket Books in 2015. This 1,299-page volume presents the complete proceedings of the Third Comintern Congress, along with 33 appendices and full annotation. The book is available from Haymarket Press for US$38.50. Copyright © John Riddell 2014.

Introduction to the Third World Congress: Part 2

2a. The Contending Forces Meet in Moscow

Leon Trotsky

Delegates from abroad reached Moscow during a time of great tension and uncertainty in Soviet Russia. The country was just beginning to recover from a deep trauma of famine, worker unrest, and revolt, while the New Economic Policy (NEP), which authorised a limited reintroduction of a market economy, began to unfold. Those arriving for the first time noted the fresh wounds of civil war and economic dislocation. A Hungarian delegate recalled how a coal shortage forced his train’s crew to halt frequently and chop wood to burn in the locomotive. Jules Humbert-Droz wrote that peasants, selling goods in Moscow, would accept only cigarettes as currency, since banknotes were not trusted. Serge, however, who had lived through worse times in Moscow, recalled that ‘from one week to the next, the famine and the speculation were diminishing perceptibly’. But the NEP generated talk that capitalism was returning; ‘the confusion among the [Communist] party rank-and-file was staggering’, Serge stated.[1]

Among the arriving delegates, the prevailing mood was one of support for the line of March 1921; dissent was found mainly among the German ‘right’ opposition and forces in the Czechoslovak, French, and Yugoslav leaderships.

Nikolai Bukharin

The Russian leaders held considerable political authority, but initially they were divided. And even if the Russian delegation rallied against the ‘leftist’ mood, it could not count on majority support. In a roll-call vote, delegations from Russia and allied soviet republics made up only 13 percent of the total. The limits of the Russian delegates’ voting sway was indicated in the one divided roll-call vote held during the congress. Despite combined opposition by the delegations from soviet republics plus the German delegation and its leftist allies, a motion by the French delegation on selection of the ECCI’s Small Bureau succeeded in winning 37 percent of the tally.[2]

The mood of the congress shifted gradually during weeks of intensive discussions before and during the congress, in corridor discussions, informal gatherings, ECCI sessions, commission meetings, and the congress proceedings themselves. The burdens of Soviet leadership did not prevent Lenin, Trotsky, Bukharin, Radek, and Zinoviev from intensive involvement in the congress. Together with three non-Russian Communists, two of whom did not address the congress, they exerted a strong influence on the gathering.

Seven leading figures

Lenin played a decisive role in the main congress debate. According to a later memoir by Bulgarian Communist Vasil Kolarov, Radek had predicted before the congress that Lenin would be too preoccupied with Russian domestic issues to concern himself with the congress, and the leftist position would therefore triumph. But for Lenin, the congress debate assumed supreme importance. Referring in session 11 to the leftist position, Lenin declared, ‘[S]omething is wrong in the International…. [W]e must say: Stop! We must wage a decisive struggle! Otherwise the Communist International is lost.’ When not in formal sessions, Lenin was often seen deep in discussion with delegates. Both Serge and Alfred Rosmer recall him chasing down delegates unknown to him and ardently explaining his views, so rapt in discussion that he missed meal-time; Radek stepped in to fetch Lenin a plate of food. Lenin’s passionate indignation is evident in his 10 June warning to Zinoviev (Appendix 3a), ‘You will spoil everything’. Radek ‘has spoilt his original draft’ of this theses on tactics and strategy by ‘concessions to “leftist” silliness’; anyone who does not soon accept the Open Letter policy (so decisively rejected in February by Zinoviev himself) ‘should be expelled’; Lenin warns that he is ready for an ‘open fight’ at the congress. Ruth Fischer later recalled the ‘fever of emotional indignation’ against Lenin among leftist delegates, who talked freely of his opportunism. Seeking to counter possible personal resentment, Lenin twice during the congress wrote delegates to retract his harsh language (appendices 3e and 4c). But on the main issues, he was adamant. In comments to the VKPD a month after the congress, Lenin was even more emphatic. ‘It was necessary to have been on the right wing’ at the congress, he wrote (see Appendix 4h). Eight months later, he added ‘I was on the extreme right flank…. I did all I could to defend Levi.’ Subsequent events, Lenin added, had shown that Levi ‘took the Menshevik path not accidentally, not temporarily,… but deliberately and permanently, because of his very nature.’[3]

Trotsky wrote ‘notes for myself’ on the March Action, dated 18 April, that stood midway between Lenin’s view and that of the ECCI majority. However, at the congress Trotsky fully supported Lenin’s views. He provided the factual and theoretical basis to refute the Theory of the Offensive in his 2½-hour opening report (session 2). His speech on tactics and strategy (session 14) provided a categorical refutation of the leftist view. Trotsky’s report to Lenin on this session reflects the two leaders’ partnership during the congress (Appendix 4a). Trotsky was singled out by the Left, both during and after the congress, as having advanced the views with which they most emphatically disagreed.[4]

Zinoviev shifted position during the congress visibly and significantly. His opening reports (sessions 1 and 4) maintained that the congress’s central purpose was to combat the Right, a formula used to downplay criticism of leftism in the March Action and elsewhere. In session 14, however, he acknowledged that he had changed his view, speaking of balanced left and right dangers in terms that Radek had previously identified to the Russian delegates as the Lenin-Trotsky viewpoint. Zinoviev also appealed strongly for reconciliation and avoidance of a further split in the German party. However, while shifting his position on the main political issue, Zinoviev avoided discussion of the ECCI’s role in the German calamity.[5]

Radek spoke often in the congress, defending the ECCI viewpoint on a wide range of questions, but his role was nonetheless ambiguous. Initially aligned with Zinoviev and Bukharin in support of leftist forces, Radek shifted during the congress to a position intermediate between them and Lenin-Trotsky. Radek continued his campaign against Levi, and he defended the VKPD majority against its critics. Yet Radek also advocated for the course of the Open Letter, which he had advanced jointly with Levi. He also clarified this initiative by explaining the concept of transitional demands, which had arisen earlier in the German mass movement but whose codification was a central political achievement of the congress. Radek also provided the most explicit acknowledgement that the ECCI’s position had shifted in the course of the congress.[6]

Three non-Russian Communists also shaped the congress debates: Zetkin, the absent Paul Levi, and the mostly silent Béla Kun.

Zetkin was the object of intense personal denigration by some leftist delegates, who sought to undermine her political reputation (see appendices 2e, 3c, 3j, 3k) and even suggested her expulsion. Nonetheless, she held detailed discussions with Lenin (appendices 3i, 4f) and with Trotsky.<For Trotsky meeting: app 3j p. 2> Among delegates of the German opposition, she carried the main load in presenting the congress with an indictment of the March Action. According to Friesland, when the Russian leaders ultimately rejected the German delegation’s leftist views, the German majority delegates, resentful and embittered, ‘placed the blame for this above all on the influence of Clara Zetkin over Lenin’. Zetkin also shaped the congress’s brief discussion and adoption of three resolutions on work among women. Harshly assailed during congress sessions, Zetkin was then honoured by a unique tribute on the occasion of her birthday, led off by Heckert, her most vociferously aggressive German opponent.[7]

Paul Levi, although absent from the congress, succeeded, through his critique of the VKPD leadership, in setting a framework for the March Action debate that dominated its proceedings. Measures were taken to reduce the impact of Levi’s views, such as by pushing through a vote endorsing Levi’s ouster, despite opposition protests, before delegates could discuss the actions of the VKPD and ECCI leaders that he had been expelled for criticising. Levi’s appeal to the congress demanding reversal of his expulsion (Appendix 2f) was apparently not made available to delegates; it is not found in congress records. Nonetheless, Levi’s views were widely known, and the course of congress discussions vindicated the core of his criticism. On this basis, at the close of the congress, Zetkin and Lenin initiated an effort, ultimately unsuccessful, to save Levi for the International, recorded in appendices 4f, 4g, and 4h.[8]

Béla Kun’s prominence among the International’s first-rank leaders is reflected in his haughty letter to Lenin defending his conduct in Berlin (Appendix 2e), his role as co-author (with Thalheimer) of the VKPD theses submitted to the congress, his blunt refutation of Trotsky in the pre-congress ECCI debate on France (Appendix 3f), and his last-minute procedural motion attempting to undercut the impact of Trotsky’s summary on the Theses on Tactics and Strategy. He was under sharp attack during the discussions in Moscow, especially from Lenin (Appendix 2d). Lenin dismissed Kun’s views with cutting scorn in the ECCI France debate (Appendix 3f), and Lenin’s sarcastic references to Béla Kun’s blunders (les bêtises de Béla Kun), although toned down in the stenographic transcript, echoed in congress corridor discussion. Aside from one procedural motion, Kun kept a prudent silence in congress debates. There was much to please him in the congress outcome: the criticisms of his conduct were not aired on the congress floor; his role in the March Action debacle was not mentioned; and he preserved his role in the Comintern’s day-to-day leadership.[9]

Debate among Bolshevik leaders

Lev Kamenev

Although Lenin had expressed doubts about the March Action as early as mid-April (Appendix 2d), his differences with Zinoviev, Bukharin, and Radek remained unresolved as the congress convened. As late as 10 June, Lenin told Zinoviev that Radek had spoilt his initial draft of the Theses on Tactics and Strategy through concessions to the leftists (Appendix 3a). Lenin voted with Trotsky and Lev Kamenev on the five-member Bolshevik Political Bureau to set the line of the Bolshevik delegation against conciliation with leftism. On 21 June, the day before the congress opened, the Politburo decided to publish the Russian leadership’s draft theses on tactics and strategy, which incorporated the Lenin-Trotsky position. Nonetheless, Radek’s report to the Russian delegation that day presented the Russian leaders as divided into two blocs (Appendix 3h). According to Radek, he, Zinoviev, and Bukharin believed the overriding threat to the International was posed by ‘opportunist forces’ – the key contention of the leftist wing. Lenin and Trotsky’s view that leftist dangers must also be combated rested on insufficient information, Radek said, claiming that he, Zinoviev, and Bukharin had made concessions only to avoid a damaging public rupture.[10]

The Russian leaders carried their disagreement, in muted form, into the congress itself. While giving ground, Zinoviev, Bukharin, and Radek still defended their leftist allies. On 29 June, the day before Radek gave the main report on tactics and strategy, the Russian party’s Political Bureau took the unusual step of instructing its delegates to reject the leftist amendments and to speak in the congress along these lines. When the discussion of tactics and strategy concluded on 2 July, the Russian leaders joined in supporting a compromise text worked out with the leftists in commission and designed to win support from the entire congress. Even so, Zinoviev, Trotsky, and Radek presented what were in essence separate summaries of the discussion, and Trotsky’s talk, strongly criticising leftist errors, was protested in a written statement by six delegations. The next day, Trotsky reported to Lenin that Zinoviev and Radek had protested his speech as a ‘bomb’ that violated the agreement among Russian leaders (Appendix 4a). The incident was smoothed over, and the Russian leadership united behind the edited theses, which were unanimously adopted.[11]


2b. Disputes over National Parties

The debate took shape in large measure in terms of policy toward four national parties, those in Italy, Germany, Czechoslovakia, and France. The leftist current in the congress sought to rid the Comintern of ‘opportunist’ leaders in these countries. Much preparatory discussion took place outside formal congress sessions, whose outcome flowed into the congress and shaped its resolutions.


The discussion on Italy was occasioned by the appeal of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) against its expulsion from the International following the split at the PSI’s January 1921 Livorno Congress. On the eve of the congress, Zinoviev responded to this appeal with a flat condemnation of the PSI as a non-Communist, centrist current, and in his opening report, he documented at length the PSI leadership’s centrist positions. Egidio Gennari, representing the Italian Communist Party’s delegation, spoke further in this vein, demanding the expulsion of the PSI pure and simple. In the discussion on Italy, delegates of the PSI and the Comintern parties largely repeated arguments heard in Livorno. Comments by Lenin, Trotsky, and Christian Rakovsky, however, left open the possibility of reunification, if the PSI expelled its reformist current, and this view was codified in the resolution on the Executive Committee report adopted in session 9. Zetkin, supporting this proposal, identified it with her controversial stand immediately after the Livorno Congress. Zinoviev’s summary on Italy was not entirely in the spirit of the resolution, but its line was strongly presented in the post-congress ECCI appeal.[12]

The Italian CP did not fully agree with the outcome of the congress, creating a discord that was to last for several years. The PSI, for its part, eventually acted on the Third Congress resolution, expelling its reformist wing in October 1922, but the party leadership subsequently failed to win a majority of its members for fusion with the Comintern, and only a minority later became part of the Italian Communist Party.[13]

Much less attention was paid during the congress to the capitalist offensive against Italian workers, the menacing rise of Italian Fascism, and Fascism’s violent attacks on workers’ organisations. The adopted theses on tactics and strategy made only brief mention of the need to resist Fascism. Zinoviev’s closing remarks revealed the Comintern leadership’s ignorance of conditions in Italy: he hailed the Communists’ leading role in a united anti-Fascist action in Rome, unaware that the Italian Communist Party had stood aside from this initiative.[14]


German delegates, expecting their March Action to be hailed by the Third Congress, were stunned on their arrival in Moscow to be greeted by a torrent of criticism. Their strenuous pre-congress debate with ECCI leaders, and with Lenin in particular, has left few written records. The dispute then moved into the congress, where it dominated the proceedings. Zetkin and other German opposition representatives (who were not part of the official delegation) argued their views strongly, while the German majority drew on support from the Communist Youth International, the Italian CP, and several other delegations. Debate was unrestrained with one major exception: aside from provocative allusions by Zetkin, the ECCI delegation’s role in the German debacle was barely mentioned at the congress. Debate centred on the Theses on Tactics and Strategy drafted by the Russian party; the VKPD withdrew its own draft and instead submitted extensive amendments, which were rejected by the Russian delegation as constituting a counterposed political line. To permit comparison, the amendments are printed in this edition alongside the corresponding portions of the ultimately adopted version.[15]

No record is available of the decisive 15 June meeting between the German delegation and the Russian party’s Political Bureau. One delegate subsequently recalled it as ‘a godawful battering on every side’. We do have, however, the German delegation’s response to this meeting (Appendix 3d), sent the next day, withdrawing its draft theses and proposing the outline of a compromise decision on the German question that resulted from the previous day’s discussion. On the same day, Lenin wrote the German delegation’s leaders retracting harsh language he had used in the previous day’s discussion (Appendix 3e). Amendments to the theses by the German, Austrian, and Italian delegates were presented 1 July; Neumann and Zetkin also submitted an amendment, for which no text is available. Its general thrust was presumably similar to the views expressed by Zetkin in her 18 June letter to Lenin (see Appendix 3g).[16] On 9 July, the delegation met with opposition representatives and with five Russian Central Committee members and worked out the shape of what became known as the ‘peace treaty’ between the two German factions (Appendix 4d). The congress also adopted a resolution on ‘The March Action and the Situation in the VKPD’ and a passage on the March Action in the ‘Theses on Tactics and Strategy’.[17]


Bohumir Šmeral

When delegates of the Czechoslovak Communist Party arrived in Moscow, they faced a barrage of criticism from ECCI members of their party’s course. The first draft of the Theses on Tactics and Strategy, drafted by Radek on 15 May, condemned the Šmeral leadership as a centrist current passively awaiting revolution. During the 12–16 June sessions of the Expanded Executive, Bukharin called the Czechoslovak leaders’ conduct an expression of pure opportunism and Zinoviev said their duplicity rivalled that of Serrati. In response, Edmund Burian, head of the delegation, informed Lenin that if things continued in this vein, the delegation would withdraw the party’s application to join the Comintern. Lenin, while expressing criticisms of Šmeral, sought to halt the drive toward split. On 10 June, he requested documentation regarding Šmeral’s role and objected to terming his policy one of passive waiting. Nonetheless, the second draft of the theses preserved the condemnation of the Šmeral leadership, which drew a protest from the Czechoslovak delegation.[18]

When the congress convened on 22 June, the Czechoslovak dispute was still unresolved. On 25 June, Zinoviev read into the congress record his polemic against Šmeral given at the 14 June ECCI meeting. The following day, Gennari presented the Italian delegation’s call for Šmeral to be barred from leadership positions. Šmeral himself arrived in Moscow 29 June. On 1 July, Burian presented to the congress the protest he had submitted to the ECCI on 16 June. No written records of commission discussions on Czechoslovakia are available, except for a short summary of a 6 July speech by Lenin (Appendix 4b). Following that speech, a motion by Lenin was adopted that removed the critical statement regarding Šmeral and called for a letter to the Czechoslovak party criticising weaknesses of both the Šmeral current and the leftist forces. The congress’s decisions on the Czechoslovak Communist movement are found in the resolution on the ECCI report and the Theses on Tactics and Strategy.[19]


Although conditions in the French party offered ample grounds for leftist criticism, it had been shielded from attack – and its leaders had been omitted from the habitual ‘Serrati-Levi-Šmeral’ listing of presumed centrists – by the ECCI’s policy of dealing with the party in what Zinoviev termed ‘a more cautious and conciliatory manner’. Nonetheless, the pre-congress sessions of the Expanded Executive witnessed two tempests of controversy over the French party.[20]

Initially, after Zinoviev’s opening report, the French delegates demanded an immediate accounting from the ECCI of its involvement in the March Action. Zinoviev responded that this would be taken up in due course during discussion of this topic. This did not satisfy the French leaders, who pressed their case. A heated exchange took place, in which Radek and Kun made provocative remarks. The French delegation thereupon left the meeting in protest. Zinoviev criticised the walkout as a breach of Communist norms and a relapse into parliamentary manoeuvring.[21]

In the 16–17 June sessions of the Expanded Executive, two delegates, Edy Reiland from Luxembourg and Maurice Laporte from the French youth organisation, assailed the French leadership for its allegedly centrist policies. Reiland went so far as to demand the immediate expulsion of Frossard. According to Rosmer, the incident was set up by Kun, who had been seeking to mobilise French-speaking delegates against the Frossard leadership. An extended debate followed, whose highlight was a sharp exchange between Trotsky, Kun, and Lenin (Appendix 3f). Lenin’s remarks, in particular, caused a sensation, helping to turn the tide against Kun and his leftist associates. When the congress opened a few days later, the tempest had not entirely blown over, and the dispute over France came up several times during the congress proceedings. In his opening report, however, Zinoviev merely inserted into the record his conciliatory remarks on the French party to the Expanded Executive. The congress resolutions, while making many proposals to strengthen the French party, refrained from any attack on its leadership.[22]


2c. The Main Congress Debates

The chief disputed issues facing the main European parties merged into a single debate that occupied the majority of the three-week congress – its first fourteen sessions. During this debate, delegates sought to arrive at a unified appraisal of how economic conditions influenced the class struggle, the state of this struggle across Europe, and the policies needed to advance the cause of revolution under existing conditions.

Trotsky’s report in session 2, ‘The World Economic Crisis and the Tasks of the Communist International’, set the framework for the entire discussion, starkly portraying the capitalist states’ newly won stability and confidence, following three years of upheaval. Workers’ ‘chaotic, elemental onslaught’ had not, as the Comintern had hoped, achieved state power within a year or two, he said; ‘[T]he situation has become more complicated, but it remains favourable from a revolutionary point of view’. The time needed for world revolution was not a question of months but ‘perhaps a matter of years’. Capitalism’s current downturn was not a sign of impending collapse but rather a phase in its natural cycle. ‘What leads to revolution is neither impoverishment nor prosperity in itself, but [their] alternation … and crisis,’ Trotsky added. In the ensuing discussion, his report was criticised for failure to acknowledge the immediate prospects for civil war. Trotsky and Eugen Varga had drafted theses on the basis of this report, but the German delegation formally requested that there be no vote on them. After a procedural wrangle, the draft theses were approved in principle in a divided vote.[23]

Zinoviev’s report from the ECCI introduced a discussion of the Comintern’s work in various countries that lasted through six sessions. He presented the slogan ‘to the masses’, which became the central theme of the congress. Decisions were taken on the extreme leftist Communist Workers Party of Germany (KAPD) and the Italian Socialist Party. A resolution was introduced by ten European delegations (but not those of Britain, Czechoslovakia, or France) that approved the conduct of the ECCI since the previous congress, including with regard to the VKPD. The absence of the French delegation among the signatories, Fernand Loriot explained, reflected its misgivings regarding the March Action and the ECCI’s role in it, and asked that this be frankly discussed in commission. Malzahn noted that the resolution did not mention the March Action or Levi’s expulsion and called for full discussion of these points before the vote on approving the ECCI’s conduct. Zinoviev then specified that approval of Levi’s ouster was implicit in the resolution. Paul Neumann of the German opposition said that it was impossible to vote on the Levi case until the March Action had been considered. He proposed postponement of the vote, but his motion was defeated, and the draft resolution was overwhelmingly approved.[24]

Umberto Terracini

The debate on tactics and strategy, next on the agenda, lasted for five sessions. Radek’s lengthy report, given on 30 June, assessed the March Action as a ‘step forward’, accompanied by mistakes that, if repeated, would lead to ‘even greater defeats’. He called on Communist parties to win the masses by participating and leading their daily struggles. He also proposed the programmatic concept later known as transitional demands. The draft theses were introduced by the Russian delegation only after extensive editing; ‘Lenin forced us to rework our theses five times’, Radek later recalled. The German, Austrian, and Italian delegations responded with amendments to the draft theses that, among other points, deleted mentions of winning the majority of workers and of the Open Letter, cut out references to combating left sectarianism, and inserted formulations drawn from the now discredited Theory of the Offensive. Sponsors of the amendments canvassed for support, with considerable success. The amendments were presented to the congress by Terracini on 1 July and printed in the German edition of the congress newspaper (Moskau) the same day.[25]

Wilhelm Koenen

The speech by Terracini, followed by Lenin’s reply, marked the turning point of the congress. After Terracini’s forceful presentation, Lenin countered that the Russian delegation ‘must insist that not a single letter in the theses be altered’. He also extended the formula of ‘winning the majority’ (which Terracini had criticised) to apply not only to industrial proletariat but to all the ‘working and exploited rural population’. ‘Lenin clobbered godawfully on all sides,’ VKPD leader Wilhelm Koenen subsequently reported. ‘This smashing about was justified on some points’, but German comrades felt he ‘really should have proceeded differently in order to convince comrades’. In the next session, Heckert received shouts of approval when he bluntly told Lenin he should have read the amendments more carefully. The German opposition also submitted amendments, whose text is not available; their spirit may be reflected in Zetkin’s insistence that the March Action fell short not merely due to ‘mistakes’ but to a fundamentally mistaken theory.[26]

Fritz Heckert

Discussion, planned to occupy two sessions, extended over twice that length and beyond. In commission discussions, the Russian delegation did agree to some modifications of wording in the theses in what Trotsky called ‘a process of mutual concessions’, but the leftist amendments were almost entirely rejected. On 2 July, Zinoviev acknowledged the need to combat the ‘Left danger’ and conceded that he had ‘learned a thing or two during the congress’ on this point. Although closing statements by Zinoviev, Trotsky, and Radek all advocated support for the proposed theses, Trotsky’s remarks stood out as an aggressive restatement of central themes of Lenin’s controversial presentation. Six delegations that had sponsored the amendments declared they had reservations regarding Trotsky’s speech, thus indicating that, in their minds at least, the dispute was not fully resolved. After further editing by the commission, the theses were adopted on 9 July. Lenin provided his own summary in a report to a side-meeting of Central European delegates held on 11 July (Appendix 4e).[27]

The KAPD and its role

Prior to the Third Congress, supporters of the Theory of the Offensive constituted a leftist current deeply rooted in the International’s mainstream. The Communist Workers Party of Germany (KAPD), by contrast, represented a more extreme leftist opposition, which had existed on the fringe of the International since 1919. The KAPD was formed in April 1920 with more than forty thousand members, mainly forces pushed out of the KPD because they refused to take part in trade unions or governmental elections. By early 1921, its membership had dropped to eight thousand.<glossary> As noted, the ECCI admitted KAPD ‘provisionally’ as a sympathising organisation in December 1920, despite protests from the KPD. During the March Action, as Frölich noted, KAPD policies converged with the new leftist VKPD majority leadership; a KAPD headline rejoiced, ‘The KPD masses are acting in line with our slogans’.[28]

At the Third Congress, however, the KAPD delegation was faced by an ultimatum from the Comintern leadership: either unify with the VKPD or leave the International. The KAPD responded vigorously, submitting draft theses to most commissions and circulating a summary of its history in English and French. KAPD delegates spoke at length under many agenda points. They canvassed left-inclined delegates from Belgium, Bulgaria, Britain, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia (Workers’ Opposition), Spain (CNT), and the US (IWW) regarding consolidating a leftist current in the International. The response was poor; only the Dutch minority and the dissident Bulgarians were sympathetic to KAPD views. Zinoviev’s ECCI report demanded that the KAPD declare in convention, within three months, its willingness to fuse with the official German section. A motion to this effect was overwhelmingly adopted. Following the congress, the KAPD rejected this ultimatum, left the Comintern, and formed a hostile international current.[29]


2d. Profile of a Compromise

The political convergence in the congress resolutions was incomplete. Significant disagreements persisted, within the ECCI and among congress delegates as in the International as a whole. Sponsors of the leftist amendments on strategy and tactics made clear by their statement repudiating Trotsky’s closing remarks on this topic that they were far from convinced of the Lenin-Trotsky position in its entirety. This attitude carried over to the VKPD’s August 1921 convention at Jena, which endorsed the leftist statement in Moscow of dissociation from Trotsky’s summary remarks.[30]

Under these conditions, the congress decisions represented an inevitable compromise, dissatisfying some delegates on both sides of the debate. Its resolutions affirmed a strategic course that rejected the leftist positions, but they left some things unsaid and some issues unresolved. The compromise sought to set out a principled basis on which divergent Communist forces could work together and broaden their area of agreement through further experience and discussion. Zetkin portrayed its dynamics by recounting her initial discussion with Lenin (Appendix 3i), quoting him as follows:

Now don’t give me that puzzled and reproachful look. You and your friends will have to accept a compromise. You must rest content with taking home the lion’s share of the congress laurels. Your fundamental political line will triumph, and triumph brilliantly….

The congress will wring the neck of the celebrated theory of the offensive and will adopt a course of action corresponding to your ideas. In return, however, [the congress] must grant the supporters of the offensive theory some crumbs of consolation. To do this, in passing judgement on the March Action, we will focus attention on the way that proletarians, provoked, fought back against the lackeys of the bourgeoisie. Beyond that, we let a somewhat fatherly leniency prevail.[31]

There was another aspect to the compromise, as Zetkin noted during the congress in a letter to Levi. ‘The Executive wants the German question to be dealt with, as much as possible, as dirty laundry within the German delegation’, she wrote (see Appendix 3j). Her statement suggests that assenting to silence on the ECCI’s role was an element in the compromise that ultimately unified the congress around common positions.[32]

The congress decisions represented a turn away from the course of the ECCI in the months prior to the congress. The adopted resolutions implicitly broke from the ECCI’s previously exclusive emphasis on defeating the ‘right danger’, modified its wholesale rejection of the Italian Socialist Party, called off its drive to condemn the Šmeral leadership in Czechoslovakia, and repudiated the ‘offensive’ strategy pursued by its envoys in Germany before, during, and after the March Action. Yet in a congress notable for candour and controversy, almost nothing was said in criticism of the ECCI’s record, including in discussion of the ECCI report (sessions 4–9). Radek assured delegates that the ECCI was not responsible for the March Action. The unanimously adopted resolution on the ECCI report gave the ECCI’s actions – including with regard to Germany – unqualified approval.[33]

Nonetheless, the ECCI envoys’ role was raised several times. Zetkin alluded to it on three occasions during the congress, the most explicit of which was her jab at Die Rote Fahne for ‘publishing appeals and articles whose un-German mode of expression enabled opponents to say, “Not made in Germany”’ – obviously a reference to the role of the Hungarian and Polish ECCI emissaries. VKPD leader Fritz Heckert also made a veiled reference to the rebellion of Die Rote Fahne’s staffers against the ECCI group’s unilateral impositions, while Friesland spoke of the resulting dissension in the Zentrale. Loriot presented the French delegation’s request for a special commission on the March Action, discussion of which he regarded as necessarily confidential. The commission could, he said, ‘discuss why the Executive was led to act as it did.’ In another context, Zetkin reviewed Rákosi’s controversial actions as ECCI envoy in January–February 1921 in Italy and Germany.[34]

In addition to the issue of ECCI envoys, two other aspects of its record were of concern to some delegates: the encouragement given by ECCI leaders prior to February 1921 to leftist opposition forces in the German party and the overall leftist bias of its Small Bureau in the months preceding the conference. These topics did not come up for discussion.

ECCI spokespersons repeatedly called for criticism and deplored its absence. Thus the Yugoslav leader Sima Marković, an ally of Levi, was given a special extension to present his criticisms of the ECCI, which he did not do. The two delegates who explicitly questioned the ECCI’s record, Zetkin and Loriot, were subject to no condemnation or reprisals.[35]

The delegates’ reticence may have been due to the continued dissension among the Executive’s most prominent members. This fact, evident in the differing content of their speeches, was also reflected in the Russian Politburo’s special motion giving instructions regarding their interventions, the flare-up of disagreement between Trotsky, Radek, and Zinoviev at the close of the tactics and strategy debate, and Lenin’s public chastisement of Radek, a few weeks after the congress, for rupturing the Moscow ‘peace agreement’ regarding the German party.[36]

The hands-off attitude toward the ECCI’s record was also reflected in the membership of the day-to-day leadership (the Small Bureau or Presidium) chosen as the congress closed. In addition to Boris Souvarine from the French party, it was composed of Zinoviev, Radek, Bukharin, Gennari, Heckert, Kun, all of whom had been identified to varying degrees with the Executive’s previous support of leftist currents.[37]

The failure to assess the role of the ECCI emissaries in the March Action, while perhaps an unavoidable component of the compromise with which the congress concluded, had negative results. The focusing of criticism on the German party leadership, while the ECCI envoys’ role was passed over in silence, suggested that leadership accountability was not being dealt with in an even-handed manner and, even, that the ECCI itself was above criticism. Ongoing friction over the ECCI’s role figured in two splits from the German party in the subsequent year. However, in the period following the Third Congress, there was no further destructive intervention by an ECCI emissary similar to the Béla Kun mission to Berlin, and ECCI representatives played a useful role in promoting Communist unity in many parties.[38]

Quite apart from the handling of the ECCI’s record, the broader political compromise at the congress served a necessary purpose. It achieved the central goal of rejecting leftist adventurism and carrying out an agreed-on strategic turn expressed in its slogan ‘To the masses’. While leaving some issues undiscussed or postponed for later clarification, it served a necessary goal – too often neglected in the socialist movement – of preserving the unity of revolutionary forces that was indispensable for further steps forward and providing a principled and broadly agreed basis for their further united action and discussion.


2e. The Comintern Broadens Its Scope

In session 15, with the great strategic debate finally dispatched to commission, the congress turned to the remaining eight topics on its agenda. Four sessions were devoted to work in trade unions, while seven other topics were squeezed into six sessions.

Trade unions

Trade-union reports by Zinoviev and Heckert were heard 3 July, which was also the opening day of the parallel world congress of unionists that went on to found the Red International of Labour Unions (RILU or Profintern). Leaders of the Comintern and its main parties agreed that revolutionaries should work within reformist-led labour organisations and defend their unity. However, they hoped that the RILU could defeat and break up the bourgeois-oriented ‘Amsterdam’ International in which these organisations were affiliated. Congress discussion focused on differences with revolutionary syndicalist forces that were strongly represented in the RILU. Debate hinged on the traditional syndicalist contention that unions should have no ties with political organisations like the Communist parties. After a further report from Heckert, the final session adopted a major resolution on the RILU and its tasks.

Jakob Riehs (Austria) found the trade-union debate to be ‘sluggish’; Jenő Landler (Hungary) complained of ‘disinterest’. Rosmer later wrote that this debate was marked by ‘the apathy normal at the end of congresses’. Proceedings of the later sessions do, in fact, show signs of strain, as commissions held extended sittings, racing to complete proposed resolutions. Nonetheless, the trade-union debate was lengthy and full of controversy.[39]

Syndicalist delegates at the Comintern and RILU congresses visited thirteen anarchists imprisoned in Moscow for breaches of Soviet legality. The treatment of Russian anarchists provoked a brief uproar in the RILU congress. In consultation with Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, US anarchists then living in Moscow, the syndicalists opened up negotiations with the Russian party leadership; Serge and Souvarine also played a role in this process. A meeting with Lenin took place on 11 July, and the following day, Trotsky conveyed the Russian Political Bureau’s reply: the jailed anarchists would be permitted to leave Russia. They were freed and reached Berlin by the end of the year.[40]


Session 17, held on 5 July, was a unique event in Comintern history: a broad and open debate on the internal policies of its Russian party. Lenin’s lengthy report focused on the just-adopted New Economic Policy (NEP), which had evoked doubt and uncertainty among many Communists inside and outside Russia. The Russian party’s new course was criticised by Alexandra Kollontai, representing the Workers Opposition within its ranks, as well as by two speakers from the KAPD. Kollontai criticised the Soviet government for insufficiently utilising ‘the creative power of the working class’; Trotsky responded that she had presented no alternative course and that the Soviet republic was amply protected by the Communists’ firm controls of the levers of economic power. The session adopted a short resolution and a set of theses drafted by Lenin.[41]

In response to the famine then afflicting wide areas of Russia, a decision was taken to launch an international campaign of emergency aid for the Soviet republic. Willi Münzenberg left Moscow to launch this work in Central Europe. Over the next year, these efforts became the Comintern’s broadest and most successful international campaign.[42]

Youth International

Willi Münzenberg

Münzenberg’s report on the Communist Youth International (CYI) (session 20) was given the day before the opening of a two-week-long CYI congress. The CYI was undertaking a reorientation: its headquarters was moving to Moscow from Berlin; its national units, many of which had led in founding the world Communist movement, would henceforth be autonomous but politically subordinate to Comintern sections in their countries. While explaining these changes, Münzenberg’s report also gave a penetrating analysis of the conditions and problems of working-class youth in Europe. The CYI congress had been preceded by months of contentious internal debate,[43] but differences of opinion had now been mostly resolved. There was time for only one additional speaker (Frölich) on this topic. A resolution was adopted, after amendment, in session 24.


Alexandra Kollontai

The Second International Conference of Communist Women, meeting in Moscow on the eve of the Third World Congress, undertook the construction of an international network of commissions for work among women, affiliated to their respective national parties. The conference drew on an appeal and a detailed plan for the women’s network drawn up by an initial gathering the previous year.[44] The Third Congress heard reports on this project by Zetkin, Lucie Colliard, and Kollontai, plus a speech by Norah Smythe. The discussion laid bare obstacles: parties had taken steps to organise women only ‘with gritted teeth’, to which women Communists reacted with ‘a measure of bitterness’. Nonetheless, the three adopted resolutions expressed determination to overcome these barriers through systematic incorporation of women in the Comintern’s work.[45]


At the time of the congress, millions of working people belonged to cooperatives, which made up a third wing of the workers’ movement, alongside parties and trade unions. Revolutionaries had previously paid little attention to cooperatives, and the Comintern sought to remedy this situation. When this agenda item came up in session 21, there was time only for a very brief report and the reading of the theses, after which the session was broken off because of insufficient attendance and the lack of translation. Too many important commission meetings had been scheduled at that time – indicative of the pressures during the final sessions. At the beginning of the next session, the theses were adopted without debate.[46]


The agenda point on party organisation sought above all to grapple with bureaucratic deformations member parties had inherited from the prewar Second International. Parties in Czechoslovakia, France, Germany (ex-USPD majority), Italy, and Norway had joined the Comintern largely intact. They included influential parliamentary, trade-union, and journalistic staffs that were often open to bourgeois influence and unresponsive to party direction. The congress resolution, drafted by Otto Kuusinen, aimed to counter this weakness by involving all members in organised party work (‘the duty to be active’) and by integrating all in the party’s cells, fractions, and working groups into a disciplined, unified structure. Lenin provided extensive input, encouraging Kuusinen to include more detail and insisting that a German comrade (Koenen) replace Béla Kun as reporter (Appendix 3b). (The following year, at the Fourth Congress, Lenin would term the resolution ‘excellent’ but ‘too long’ and ‘too Russian’ in spirit.) Koenen’s lengthy report was squeezed into the congress’s third-last session, and there was time to hear only three brief comments, each of them critical, before referring the resolution back to the commission for editing. It was adopted in the final session.[47]

The text did not take up financial assistance by the Comintern to member parties, an issue that played a role in a split later that year in Germany. It did, however, propose that Red Aid, the solidarity campaign with victims of capitalist repression, initiated in Germany after the March Action, be expanded internationally. The Fourth Congress returned to this topic, and it became one of the Comintern’s most successful broad campaigns.[48]

Functioning of the International

No agenda point specifically addressed the Comintern’s structure. The two resolutions taking up these issues gave blanket approval to the ECCI’s activity and called for the Executive and its apparatus to be enlarged and strengthened. Zinoviev protested intimations by Levi and others that some emissaries had acted irresponsibly, and the practice of sending ECCI emissaries to member parties – to gather information but also ‘with full powers’ – was endorsed.[49]

Revolution in colonies and semi-colonies

In 1920, the Comintern adopted sweeping resolutions on revolution in the colonies and semi-colonies, worked out in two World Congress sessions and a separate conference on the peoples of the East. For the Third Congress, delegates from China, India, and Iran prepared three draft resolutions that sought to develop strategic concepts for struggle in colonised countries with varying class structures (see appendices 5a, 5b, and 5c). M.N. Roy’s draft stressed the revolutionary potential of the nascent proletariat in the colonies; drafts by Sultanzade and Zhang Tailei called for a revolutionary anti-colonial alliance, anticipating what later became known as the anti-imperialist united front.[50]

Perhaps because of the press of business at the congress close, none of these drafts was presented to the congress. A session was scheduled for discussion of the Eastern Question, but it had to be fitted into the final day of the congress, before an organisational commission meeting and the demanding closing session. The commission on the Eastern Question gave no report, and discussion did not address the strategic and policy issues facing Communists in the East. Halfway through the speakers’ list, the chair (Kolarov) cut the speaking time to five minutes and dispensed with translation – measures unique in working sessions of the congress. The speech of South African delegate Ivon Jones was omitted from the published proceedings; it is found in Appendix 5d. For a motion by the Palestinian party, not taken up in the congress, see Appendix 5e. Roy spoke out strongly against what he considered the slipshod handling of the Eastern question during the congress. The French delegate Charles-André Julien seconded Roy’s complaint, adding that ‘the main role [in the session] has been played by cinematography’. The chair, Kolarov, while rejecting Roy’s and Julien’s protests, conceded that the Eastern question had been dealt with inadequately. At the start of the next and final session, Koenen said that a draft manifesto on the Eastern question was available and obtained agreement for its referral to the ECCI for publication. The manifesto is not otherwise mentioned in the congress; its text was not published and is not found in the congress records. The following year, the Fourth Congress held a two-day discussion on the Eastern question and adopted a comprehensive resolution.[51]

In other congress sessions, delegates heard explanations of the strategic importance of anti-colonial struggles by Mir Ja’far Javadzadeh, Roy, Lenin, Zetkin, and Zinoviev.[52]


2f. School of Strategy

The Third Congress set in motion a shift in strategy that was extended through: (1) adoption of the united front policy (December 1921); (2) elaboration of this policy with respect to positions on transitional demands and workers’ governments and on anti-imperialist struggles (December 1922); (3) development of a policy for united resistance to fascism (May 1923). Although the Third Congress decisions were a working compromise among a still very divided body of delegates, agreement was achieved around a strategic course of going ‘to the masses’, taking part in their daily struggles, and seeking to win their majority to a revolutionary course, as a precondition for achieving workers’ power. The congress manifesto called on workers to join in a ‘single unified front’. This crucial step forward opened up a process in which the Comintern developed and tested a wide spectrum of tactical initiatives to achieve the goal of winning mass support through united action. Thus, although the congress endorsed the ‘Open Letter’ initiative solely in the context of Germany, only six months later, in December 1921, the ECCI proposed it as a generally applicable policy, now termed the ‘united front’. Another four months, and Comintern delegates were meeting in a joint conference with representatives of the despised Second and Two-and-a-Half Internationals.[53]

The congress was a practical working meeting, whose outcome was not predictable and not preordained. It was characterised by free and open debate, in which those with unpopular views were not silenced or penalised. Despite the Bolshevik leaders’ prestige, there was no reticence about criticising them and no hesitation in opposing their positions. Deep differences were frankly debated, and an area of agreement was defined and widened. Despite shared concern for difficulties experienced by Soviet Russia, there was no subordination of international struggles to Russian national interests.

Despite many difficulties and obstacles, progress was indeed made. Even members of the Italian Socialist Party and the KAPD, whose leaders were openly attacking the Comintern, were offered a credible path to integration into the International. With regard to the mass Communist parties, the congress averted a rupture in Czechoslovakia, nudged the Italian party toward revolutionary reunification, exercised needed restraint in France, and, in Germany, achieved a fragile equilibrium and a new start.

The Third Congress took decisive steps in mapping out a strategy for revolutionary struggle in a preparatory period where conditions for revolutionary action were not yet present. Italian Marxist Luigi Cortesi has aptly caught the mood of the occasion:

The grandeur and representativity of the congress impressed on the world a constantly more tangible reality of an alternative to the capitalist system. There is no evading .. a sense of the historic solemnity of this gathering, almost a parliament of humanity.[54]

The congress opened up a two-year period, probably the most creative in Comintern history, of innovative attempts to forge workers’ unity in action. It well deserved Trotsky’s praise in a July 14 speech to Communist youth, when he termed it ‘the highest school of revolutionary strategy’.[55]


For Further Reading


  1. Leonhard 1981, p. 245; Humbert-Droz 1971, p. 14; Serge 2012, p. 172.
  2. For allocation of votes, see credentials report, pp. 177–8. For the roll-call vote, see pp. 880–2.
  3. Kolarov quoted in Reisberg 1971, p. 162; Lenin, below, p. 467; Serge 2012, p. 161; Rosmer 1971, pp. 139–40; Leonhard 1981, pp. 255–6; Fischer 1948, p. 177; Lenin, appendices 3a (pp. 1089–99), 3e (pp. 1107), and 4c (pp. 1157–8); Lenin, Appendix 4h, p. 1179; LCW, 33, p. 208.
  4. See Trotsky’s ‘Zametki dlia sebia’ in Drabkin et al. (eds.) 1998, p. 257–61; speeches in sessions 2 (pp. 102–33) and 14 (pp. 571–81); Appendix 4a (pp. 1153–5); Leonhard 1981, p. 252; statement by the Left, p. #671; Broué 2005, p. 567 (on VKPD Jena congress).
  5. See pp. 81, 233, 562–7 (Zinoviev).
  6. On transitional demands, see pp. 421–2, 440–2, 936; on the ECCI’s shift, p. 593. On Radek’s role, see especially Fayet 2004, pp. 386–91.
  7. For appendices, see 1088–90, 1104–5, 1148–51, 1151–2, 1137–48, 1174–6. See also pp. 307 (expulsion threat), 283–301 (Zetkin speech); Brandt and Lowenthal 1957, p. 169 (Friesland’s opinion); pp. #909–30 and pp. 779–96 and 1009–27 (debate and resolutions on women); pp. 651–5, including 651, n. 1 (Zetkin tribute).
  8. See p. 400 (Levi expulsion), 399–400 (German opposition statement); Appendix 2f, pp. 1090–6 (Levi appeal); pp. 392–4, 400–1 (procedural issue); Appendices 4f, 4g, 4h, pp. 1174–80.
  9. See Appendix 2e, pp. 1088–90; Reisberg 1971, p. 165 (Kun’s authorship); Appendix 3f, pp. 1125–8 (Kun’s speech); pp. 582 (Kun’s motion); Appendix 2d, pp. 1086–7; Appendix 3f, pp. 1128–32 (Lenin’s speech); Serge 2012, p. 163.
  10. See Appendix 3a, pp. 1097–1101; Hájek and Mejdrová 1997, p. 310 (Politburo decision); Trotsky 1972b, pp. 33–5; Trotsky 1936, pp. 87–91; Appendix 3h, pp. 1135–7.
  1. Hájek and Mejdrová 1997, p. 310; below, pp. 597–8 (statement by six delegations); Appendix 4a, pp. 1153–5; ‘Theses on Tactics and Strategy’, pp. 924–50.
  2. Zinoviev, ‘Vor dem III. Kongress der Kommunistischen Internationale’, Kommunistische Internationale, 16 (1921), pp. 1–7; below, p. 349 (Gennari), 921–2 (‘Resolution on the Executive Committee Report’), 371–2 (Zetkin), 892–3 (Zinoviev), 1037 (appeal).
  3. Natoli 1982, pp. 129–33; Riddell (ed.) 2011b, 4WC, p. 16.
  4. See pp. 931, 894; Behan 2007, pp. 58–69. Compare Lenin’s remarks to Central European delegates in Appendix 4e, p. 1172.
  5. See Zetkin, pp. pp. 1150, 296–7, 298; ‘Amendments to the Theses on Tactics’, pp. 1041–58.
  6. The 5 July issue of Moscou, which published the German-Austrian-Italian amendments, added a note, ‘Because of a lack of space, the amendments proposed by the Neumann-Zetkin group in the VKPD cannot be published in this newspaper.’ For Zetkin’s letter to Lenin, see Appendix 3g, pp. 1132–5.
  7. Weber 1991, p. 234; appendices 3d and 3e, pp. 1106–7; Appendix 4d, pp. 1158–69; pp. 951, 941–2 (texts on March Action).
  8. Firsov 1975, p. 381; Hájek and Mejdrová 1997, pp. 320–2; Lenin 1958–65, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii (hereinafter PSS), 52, p. 269. For the Czechoslovak statement, see p. 494, n. 18.
  9. See pp. #199–207 (Zinoviev June 13 report); Firsov 1975, p. 384; below, pp. 255 (Gennari); Appendix 4b, pp. 1155–7 (Lenin summary and resolution); congress resolutions, pp. 921–3 and 932–3.
  10. See p. 216 (Zinoviev).
  11. Rosmer 1971, pp. 127–8; Robrieux 1980, 1, p. 77.
  12. See Appendix 3f, pp. 1108–32; Rosmer 1971, p. 127; below, 310 (Friesland), 324–5 (Rákosi), 534 (Vaillant-Couturier), 768 (Münzenberg), 215–20 (Zinoviev). Several sessions of the Expanded Executive were held on the eve of the Third Congress; invited representatives from Comintern parties expanded attendance to about 70.
  13. See pp. 131, 133, and 165 (Trotsky); 150 (amendment by Pogány), 169 (motion by German delegation), 172–3 (vote), 901–20 (theses).
  14. See pp. 234 (‘To the Masses’), 921–3 (Resolution on ECCI Report), 387 (Loriot), 392 (Malzahn), 392–3 (Zinoviev), 393 (Neumann), 399–400 (German opposition), 400–1 (vote).
  15. See p. 436 (Radek). Regarding ‘transitional demands’, see pp. 436–42 and 935–9. On editing of theses, see Gutjahr 2012, Revolution muss sein, p. 485. For the amendments, see pp. 1041–58. Supporters of the amendments included the German, Austrian, Italian, Polish, Hungarian (majority), Czech-German, and Youth International delegations. The French translation appeared 5 July, but Terracini says (p. 457) that the original (German) version was published 1 July.
  16. See pp. 457–65 (Terracini) and 465–73 (Lenin); 468 and 472 (Lenin quotations); Reisberg 1971, p. 181 (Koenen); below, pp. 482 (Heckert), 545–6 (Zetkin). A passage from the German opposition amendment was read out in Session 14; see p. 565.
  17. See pp. 447 (length of discussion), 572 (Trotsky on concessions), 799–803 (list of changes), 562 (Zinoviev), 571–81 (Trotsky speech), 597–8 (declaration on Trotsky speech), 1170–3 (Appendix 4e). The dispute on Trotsky’s remarks continued at the VKPD’s 22–26 August congress in Jena, which declared its disagreement with his speech (Broué 2005, p. 567).
  18. On the eve of the Third Congress, Lenin stated, ‘I clearly see my mistake in voting for the admission of the KAPD.’ See Appendix 3a, p. 1099. See also Bock 1969, p. 257; Koch-Baumgarten 1986, p. 156; below, p. 243 (Frölich).
  19. Bock 1969, pp. 260–2; below, pp. 329–30, 331–5, 592 (Zinoviev).
  20. Broué 2005, p. 567.
  21. See Appendix 3i, p. 1140.
  22. See Appendix 3j, p. 1150.
  23. See pp. 388 (Radek), 392–3 (scope of resolution), 921–3 (resolution).
  24. See pp. 300 (Zetkin on Béla Kun article), 296–8 (other Zetkin references), 312 and 488–9 (Heckert), 523 (Friesland), 387 (Loriot), 292–3 (Zetkin on Rákosi).
  25. See pp. 267 (Radek), 395 (Zinoviev), 275–81 (Marković), 296–8 (Zetkin), 387 (Loriot).
  26. Háyek and Mejdrová 1997, p. 310; Appendix 4a, pp. 1153–5; LCW, 32, p. 516.
  27. Comintern 1922a, p. 7; Fayet 2008, pp. 119–20.
  28. On the post-congress record of the ECCI, see Riddell (ed.) 2011b, 4WC, pp. 41–5 and passim. Pogány, sent by the ECCI to the US in 1922, organised a faction and took over effective leadership of the US party, but there is no evidence of ECCI involvement in this exploit; see Riddell (ed.) 2011b, p. 42, n. 111.
  29. See pp. pp. 734 (Riehs); 731 (Landler); Rosmer 1971, p. 134.
  30. Tosstorff 2004, pp. 347–59.
  31. See pp. 679–82 (Kollontai), 686ff. (Trotsky), 970–7 (theses and resolution).
  32. See 3 July 1921 letter by Münzenberg to Zinoviev in Bayerlein et al. (eds.) 2013.
  33. For background on the youth congress, see p. 773, n. 9.
  34. For documents of the 1920 meeting, see Riddell (ed.) 1991, 2WC, 2, pp. 972–98.
  35. See pp. pp. 779–94 (reports by Zetkin, Colliard, Kollontai), 328 (Smythe), 780 and 781–2 (on obstacles), 1009–29 (resolutions). See also the Fourth Congress reports and resolution, Riddell (ed.) 2011b, 4WC, pp. 837–73.
  36. A fuller discussion on cooperatives took place at the Fourth Congress. See Riddell (ed.) 2011b, 4WC, pp. 813–36.
  37. See ‘Organisational Structure of the Communist Parties,’ pp. 978–1006; Lenin’s proposals in Appendix 3b, 1101–4; Koenen’s report, pp. 809–32 and summary 874–8; Lenin’s subsequent comments in Riddell (ed.) 2011b, 4WC, pp. 303–5.
  38. See Broué 2005, p. 570 (finances). On Red Aid, see resolution, p. 1001 and Riddell (ed.) 2011b, 4WC, pp. 959–61.
  39. See ‘Resolution on the Report of the ECCI’, 921–3; ‘Resolution on Organising the Communist International’, pp. 1007–8; pp. 397–8 (Zinoviev on emissaries); p. 1008 (decision on emissaries).
  40. Riddell (ed.) 1991, 2WC, 1, 211–90; Riddell (ed.) 1993 (Baku Congress); appendices 5a, 5b, 5c, pp. 1181–93.
  41. See p. 854 (Kolarov); Appendices 5d and 5e, pp. 1193–7; pp. 855–6 (Roy), 865 (Julien), 870 (Kolarov), 872 (Koenen). For the Fourth Congress discussion and resolution, see Riddell (ed.) 2011b, pp. 28–33, 261–5, 649–737, 800–11, 947–51, 1180–90.
  42. See pp. 322–3 (Javadzadeh), 156–9 (Roy), 659 (Lenin), 82 and 783 (Zetkin), 63 and 849 (Zinoviev).
  43. See pp. 1034, 1036 (manifesto), 928, 933 (Open Letter); Riddell (ed.) 2011b, 4WC, pp. 1164–73 (‘Theses on the Workers’ United Front’); International Socialist Congress 1967.
  44. Cortesi 2010, p. 466.
  45. Trotsky 1972a, 1, p. 297.



Documents of the Communist Movement in Lenin’s Time

Riddell, John (ed.) 1984, Lenin’s Struggle for a Revolutionary International 1907–1916, New York: Pathfinder Press.

——— 1986, The German Revolution and the Debate on Soviet Power, New York: Pathfinder Press.

——— 1987, Founding the Communist International: Proceedings and Documents of the First Congress, March 1919 (1WC), New York: Pathfinder Press.

——— 1991, Workers of the World and Oppressed Peoples, Unite! Proceedings and Documents of the Second Congress, 1920 (2WC), 2 volumes, New York: Pathfinder Press.

——— 1993, To See the Dawn: Baku, 1920 – First Congress of the Peoples of the East, New York: Pathfinder Press.

——— 2011b, Toward the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International (4WC), Historical Materialism Book Series, Leiden: Brill.

Taber, Mike (ed.) 2018, The Communist Movement at a Crossroads: Plenums of the Communist International’s Executive Committee 1922–1923, Historical Materialism Book Series, Leiden: Brill.

Editions of the Third Comintern Congress and Its Resolutions

Adler, Alan (ed.) 1980, Theses, Resolutions and Manifestos of the First Four Congresses of the Third International, London: Ink Links.

Comintern 1921c, Protokoll des III. Kongresses der Kommunistischen Internationale, Hamburg: Verlag der Kommunistischen Internationale.

——— 1921d, Thesen und Resolutionen des III. Weltkongresses der Kommunistischen Internationale, Hamburg: Verlag der Kommunistischen Internationale.

——— 1921e, Third Congress of the Communist International: Report of Meetings Held at Moscow, June 22nd–July 12th 1921, London: Communist Party of Great Britain.

——— 1922b, III vsemirnyi kongress Kommunisticheskogo internatsionala, Petersburg: Gosizdat.

——— 1934, Thèses, manifestes et résolutions adoptés par les Ier, IIe, IIIe, et IVe congrès de l’Internationale communiste (1919–1923) Textes complets, Paris: Librairie du Travail.

——— 1988, Gongchan guoji di 3 ci daibiao dahui wenjian, 1921 nian 6 yue-7 yue [Documents of the Third Congress of the Communist International, June–July 1921], Beijing: China Renmin University Press. <Library of Congress X11.I5 C65 1921>

——— 1994, The Comintern Archive, Leiden: IDC.

Kun, Béla 1933, Kommunisticheskii internatsional v dokumentakh, Moscow: Partiinoe Izdatel’stvo.

Bosić, Milovan et al. (eds.) 1981, Treći kongres Komunističke internacionale, in Komunistička Internacionala: Stenogrami i documenti kongresa, Volume 3, Gornji Milanovac: Kulturni centar.

Comintern Periodicals

Bulletin des III. Kongresses der Kommunistischen Internationale, nos. 1–24, 24 June–20 July 1921.

Inprecorr: International Press Correspondence, news bulletin of the Communist International from October 1921.

Inprekorr: Internationale Presse-Korrespondenz, German-language Comintern news bulletin from September 1921.

Die Kommunistische Fraueninternationale, magazine of the Communist Women’s Movement.

Die Kommunistische Internationale, journal of the Communist International, also published in English, French, and Russian.

Moscou, organe du 3e congrès de l’Internationale communiste, May 25–7 July 1921. Also published in English and German.


Herting, Günter 1960, Bibliographie zur Geschichte der Kommunistischen Internationale (1919–1943), Berlin: Institut für Marxismus-Leninismus.

Kahan, Vilém 1990, Bibliography of the Communist International (1919–1979), Leiden: Brill.

Procacci, Giuliano 1958, ‘L’Internazionale comunista dal I al VII congresso 1919–1935’, Annali dell’Istituto Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, 1: 283–315.

Sworakowski, Witold S. (ed.) 1965, The Communist International and Its Front Organizations, Stanford: Hoover Institution Press.

See also Broué 1997 and Buckmiller and Meschkat (eds.) 2007.

Biographical Resources

Andreucci, Franco and Tommaso Detti (eds.) 1975–9, Il movimento operaio italiano: Dizionario biografico 1853–1943, 6 volumes, Rome: Editori Riuniti.

Bartke, Wolfgang (ed.) 1990, Biographical Dictionary and Analysis of China’s Party Leadership 1922–1988, Munich: K.G. Saur.

Buckmiller, Michael and Klaus Meschkat (eds.) 2007, Biographisches Handbuch zur Geschichte der Kommunistischen Internationale, Berlin: Akademie Verlag.

Chase, William J. 2001, Enemies Within the Gates? The Comintern and the Stalinist Repression, 1934–1939, New Haven: Yale University Press.

Gotovitch, José and Mikhail Narinski (eds.) 2001, Komintern: L’histoire et les hommes: Dictionnaire biographique de l’Internationale communiste en France, en Belgique, au Luxembourg, en Suisse, et à Moscou (1919–1943), Paris: Éditions de l’Atelier.

Jeifets, Lazar, Victor Jeifets, and Peter Huber (eds.) 2004, La Internacional comunista y América latina, 1919–1943: Diccionario biográfico, Moscow: Latin America Institute.

Kahan, Vilém 1976, ‘The Communist International, 1919–43: The Personnel of its Highest Bodies’, International Review of Social History, 21 (1976), 2, pp. 151–85

Lane, A. Thomas (ed.) (1995), Biographical Dictionary of European Labor Leaders, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Lazitch, Branko (ed.) 1986, Biographical Dictionary of the Comintern, Stanford: Hoover Institution Press.

Lorwin, Lewis L. 1929, Labor and Internationalism, New York: Macmillan

Maitron, Jean (ed.) 1964–97, Dictionnaire biographique du mouvement ouvrier français, 44 volumes, Paris: Éditions Ouvrières.

Maitron, Jean and Georges Haupt (eds.) 1971–, Dictionnaire biographique du mouvement ouvrier international, 11 volumes, Paris: Éditions Ouvrières.

Morgan, Kevin, Gidon Cohen, and Andrew Flinn (eds.) 2005, Agents of the Revolution: New Biographical Approaches to the History of International Communism in the Age of Lenin and Stalin, Oxford: Peter Lang Publishing.

Schneider, Dieter Marc et al. (eds.) 1980, Biographisches Handbuch der deutschsprachigen Emigration nach 1933, 2 volumes, Munich: K.G. Saur.

Tych, Feliks (ed.) 1985, Słownik biograficzny działaczu polskiego ruchu robotniczego, 3 volumes, Warsaw: Książka i Wiedza.

Weber, Hermann and Andreas Herbst (eds.) 2004, Deutsche Kommunisten: Biographisches Handbuch 1918 bis 1945, Berlin: Dietz Verlag.

And the following Web resources:

International Institute of Social History: <>

Smolny: Collectif d’édition des introuvables du mouvement ouvrier: <>

Friedrich Ebert Stiftung: <>

Gauche Allemande: <>

Graham Stevenson: <>

In addition, significant biographical appendices are found in Agosti (ed.) 1974, Bock 1969, Broué 1997, Broué 2005, Bosić et al. (eds.) 1981, Chase 2001, Piatnitskii and Taras 2004, Reviakina et al. (eds.) 2005, Riddell (ed.) 1991, Riddell (ed.) 1993, Riddell (ed.) 2011b, Serge 2012, and Tosstorff 2004.

Third Congress–Related Comintern Documents

Adhikari, Gangadhar M. (ed.) 1971, Documents of the History of the Communist Party of India, 8 volumes, New Delhi: People’s Publishing House.

Adibekov, Grant and Kharuki Vada (eds.) 2001, VKP(b), Komintern i Iaponiia 1917–1941, Moscow: ROSSPEN.

Agosti, Aldo (ed.) 1974, La Terza Internazionale: Storia documentaria, Volume 1 (1919–23), Rome: Editori Riuniti.

Bahne, Siegfried (ed.) 1970, Archives de Jules Humbert-Droz, Volume 1, Dordrecht: D. Reidel.

Bosić, Milovan, et al. (eds.) 1981, Komunistička internacionala: stenogrami i dokumenti kongresa, 7 volumes, Gornji Milanovac: Kulturni centar.

Broué, Pierre (ed.) 1974, Les congrès de l’Internationale communiste: Le premier congrès, 2–6 mars, 1919, Paris: Études et documentation internationales.

——— 1979, Du premier au deuxième congrès de l’Internationale communiste, mars 1919–juillet 1920, Paris: Études et documentation internationales.

Chaqueri, Cosroe (ed.) 1969–94, Asnād-i tārīkhī-i junbish-i kārgarī, sūsyāl dimūkrāsī va kumūnīstī-i Īrān [Historical Documents: The Workers’, Social Democratic, and Communist Movement in Iran], 23 volumes, Tehran: Intishārāt-i Pādzahr.

Comintern 1920, Der zweite Kongress der Kommunistischen Internationale, Vienna: Arbeiter Buchhandlung.

——— 1921a, Ital’ianskaia sotsialisticheskaia partiia i Kommunisticheskii internatsional (sbornik materialov), Petrograd: Comintern.

——— 1921b, Le parti socialiste italien et I’Internationale: recueil de documents, Petrograd: Éditions de l’Internationale communiste.

——— 1921f, Der zweite Kongress der Kommunistischen Internationale, Hamburg: Verlag der Kommunistischen Internationale.

——— 1922a, Die Tätigkeit der Exekutive und des Präsidiums des E.K. der Kommunistischen Internationale vom 13. Juli 1921 bis 1. Februar 1922, Petrograd: Verlag der Kommunistischen Internationale.

——— 1923, Veröffentlichungen des Verlages der Kommunistischen Internationale 1920 bis 1922, Hamburg: Carl Hoym Nachf.

——— 1988, Gongchan guoji disanci daibiao dahui wenjian [Documents of the Third Congress of the Communist International], Beijing: Zhongguo renmin daxue chuban she.

Davidson, Apollon et al. (eds.) 2003, Socialist Pilgrims to Bolshevik Footsoldiers, 1919–1930, in South Africa and the Communist International: A Documentary History, Volume 1, London: Frank Cass.

Degras, Jane (ed.) 1971, The Communist International 1919–1943 Documents, 3 volumes, New York: Frank Cass.

Drabkin, Ia.S., L.G. Babichenko, and K.K. Shirinia (eds.) 1998, Komintern i ideia mirovoi revoliutsii, Moscow: Nauka.

Gankin, Olga Hess, and H.H. Fisher (eds.) 1940, The Bolsheviks and the World War, Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Gruber, Helmut (ed.) 1967, International Communism in the Era of Lenin, Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Hedeler, Wladislaw and Alexander Vatlin (eds.) 2008, Die Weltpartei aus Moskau: Der Gründungskongress der Kommunistischen Internationale 1919, Berlin: Akademie Verlag.

IML-SED (Institut für Marxismus-Leninismus beim ZK der SED) 1966a Dokumente und Materialien der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung, Bd. VII/1 1919–1921, Berlin: Dietz Verlag.

——— 1966b. Geschichte der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung, Band 3. Von 1917 bis 1923, Berlin: Dietz Verlag.

Joshi, Puran Chandra and K. Damodaran (eds.) 2007, A Documented History of the Communist Movement in India, 2 volumes, New Delhi: Sunrise Publications.

Kalmykov, N.P. (ed.) 1998, Komintern i Latinskaia Amerika: Sbornik dokumentov, Moscow: Nauka.

Kuo Heng-yü and M.L. Titarenko (eds.) 1996, RKP(B), Komintern und die national-revolutionäre Bewegung in China: Dokumente, Volume 1 (1920–5), Paderborn: F. Schöningh.

Meijer, Jan (ed.) 1964, The Trotsky Papers, 1917–1922, 2 volumes, The Hague: Mouton.

PCI (Communist Party of Italy) 1921, La questione italiana al terzo congresso della Internazionale Comunista, Rome: Libreria Editrice del Partito Comunista d’Italia.

——— 1922, Manifesti ed altri documenti politici, Roma: Libreria Editrice del Partito Comunista d’Italia.

Parti socialiste 1921, 18ème congrès national tenu à Tours. Compte rendu sténographique, Paris.

Prometheus Research Library 1988, Guidelines on the Organizational Structure of Communist Parties, on the Methods and Content of Their Work. New York

Radek, Karl 1924, Piat’ let Kominterna, 2 volumes, Moscow.

Reviakina, Luiza et al. (eds.) 2005, Kominternut i Bulgariia, 2 volumes, Sofia: Glavo upravlenie na archivite.

RILU 1921, Resolutions and Decisions of the First International Congress of Revolutionary Trade and Industrial Unions, Chicago: The Voice of Labor.

Saich, Tony (ed.) 1991, The Origins of the First United Front in China: The Role of Sneevliet (Alias Maring), 2 volumes, Leiden: Brill.

——— 1996, The Rise to Power of the Chinese Communist Party: Documents and Analysis, Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.

Shirinia, K.K. (ed.) 1970, V. I. Lenin i Kommunisticheskii internatsional, Moscow: Politizdat.

——— and Kharuki Vada (eds.) 2007, VKP(b), Komintern i Koreia, 1918–1941, Moscow: ROSSPEN.

Stoljarowa, Ruth and Peter Schmalfuss (eds.) 1990, Briefe Deutscher an Lenin, 1917–1923, Berlin: Dietz Verlag.

Titarenko, M.L. (ed.) 1986, Kommunisticheskii internatsional i kitaiskaia revoliutsiia: dokumenty i materialy, Moscow: Nauka.

——— et al. (eds.) 1994, VKP(b), Komintern, i natsional’no-revoliutsionnoe dvizhenie v Kitae: Dokumenty, Volume 1 (1920–5), Moscow: ROSSPEN.

Trotsky, Leon 1967, Le Mouvement communiste en France (1919–1939), Paris: Minuit.

——— 1972a, The First Five Years of the Communist International, 2 volumes, New York: Pathfinder Press.

Weber, Hermann (ed.) 1966, Die Kommunistische Internationale: Eine Dokumentation, Hanover: J.H.W. Dietz Nachf.

Zentrale der KPD 1922, Die Enthüllungen zu den Märzkämpfen. Enthülltes und Verschwiegenes.

Zentrale der VKPD 1921, Taktik und Organisation der revolutionären Offensive: Die Lehren der März-Aktion, Leipzig-Berlin.

Selected Bibliography of Third Congress–Related Literature

Abrahamian, Ervand 1982, Iran Between Two Revolutions, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Adibekov, G.M., E.N. Shakhnazarova, and K.K. Shirinia 1997, Organizatsionnaia struktura Kominterna: 1919–1943, Moscow: ROSSPEN.

Agosti, Aldo 2009, Il Partito mondiale della rivoluzione : Saggi sul comunismo e l’Internazionale, Milan: Unicopli.

Alba, Victor 1983, The Communist Party in Spain, New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books.

Amendola, Giorgio 1978, Storia del Partito comunista italiano, Rome: Editori Riuniti.

Andreu, Maurice 2003, L’Internationale communiste contre le capital, 1919–1924; ou comment empoigner l’adversaire capitaliste? Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

Angell, Norman 1913, The Great Illusion: A Study of the Relation of Military Power to National Advantage. London: Heinemann.

Angress, Werner T. 1963, Stillborn Revolution: The Communist Bid for Power in Germany, 1921–1923, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Angus, Ian 1981, Canadian Bolsheviks: The Early Years of the Communist Party of Canada, Montreal: Vanguard.

Artemov, V.A. 2000, Karl Radek: Ideia i sud’ba, Voronezh: Voronezh State University.

Avakumović, Ivan 1967, History of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press.

Badia, Gilbert 1993, Clara Zetkin, féministe sans frontières, Paris: Éditions Ouvrières.

Balsamini, Luigi 2002, Gli Arditi del Popolo: Dalla guerra alla difesa del popolo contro le violenze fasciste, Salerno: Galzerano Editore.

Bauer, Otto 1919, Der Weg zum Sozialismus [The Road to Socialism]. Vienna: Volksbuchhandlung.

Bayerlein, Bernhard H. et al. (eds.) 2013, Deutschland, Russland, Komintern – Überblicke, Analysen, Diskussionen: Neue Perspektiven auf die Geschichte der KPD und die deutsch-russischen Beziehungen (1918–1943), Berlin: De Gruyter.

Becker, Jens 2001, Heinrich Brandler: Eine politische Biographie, Hamburg: VSA-Verlag.

Beckmann, George M. and Genji Okubo 1969, The Japanese Communist Party 1922–1945, Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Behan, Tom 2003, The Resistible Rise of Benito Mussolini, London: Bookmarks.

Bell, John D. 1986, The Bulgarian Communist Party from Blagoev to Zhivkov, Stanford: Hoover Institution Press.

Beradt, Charlotte 1969, Paul Levi: ein demokratischer Sozialist in der Weimarer Republik, Frankfurt am Main: Europäische Verlagsanstalt.

Bezvesel’nyi, S.F. and D.E. Grinberg (eds.) 1968, They Knew Lenin: Reminiscences of Foreign Contemporaries, Moscow: Progress Publishers.

Bock, Hans Manfred 1969, Syndikalismus und Linkskommunismus von 1918–1923, Meisenheim am Glan: A. Hain.

Bois, Marcel and Florian Wilde 2007, ‘Modell für den künftigen Umgang mit innerparteilicher Discussion? Der Heidelberger Parteitag der KPD 1919’, Jahrbuch für Forschungen zur Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung, 6: 2.

Il Bolscevismo: giudicato dai Socialisti Italiani, 1921, Rome: Tipografia Soc. Editrice Urbs.

Borkenau, Franz 1962, World Communism: A History of the Communist International, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Borsányi, György 1993, The Life of a Communist Revolutionary, Béla Kun, New York: Columbia University Press.

Brackman, Arnold C. 1963, Indonesian Communism: A History, New York: Praeger.

Brandler, Heinrich 1921a, Der Hochverratsprozess gegen Heinrich Brandler vor dem Gericht ausserordentlich, am 6. Juni 1921 in Berlin, Leipzig-Berlin.

Brandler, Heinrich 1921b, War die Märzaktion ein Putsch? Berlin, Leipzig: Franke.

Brandt, Willi and Richard Lowenthal 1957, Ernst Reuter, ein Leben für die Freiheit, Munich: Kindler.

Braunthal, Julius 1967, History of the International, Volume 2, London: Nelson.

Broué, Pierre 1988, Trotsky, Paris: Fayard.

——— 1997, Histoire de l’Internationale communiste 1919–43, Paris: Fayard.

——— 2005, The German Revolution 1917–1923, London: Merlin Press.

Brown, W.J. 1986, The Communist Movement and Australia: An Historical Outline – 1890s to 1980s, Haymarket, Australia: Australian Labor Movement History Publications.

Buber-Neumann, Margarete 1967, Kriegsschauplätze der Weltrevolution: Ein Bericht aus der Praxis der Komintern 1919–1943, Stuttgart: Seewald.

Bukharin, Nikolai 1971 [1920], Economics of the Transformation Period, New York: Bergman Publishers.

Calwer, Richard 1921, Staatsbankrott: Darstellung seiner Ursachem und Wirkungen, Berlin: Wirtschaftsstatist. Bureau.

Cammett, John M. 1967, Antonio Gramsci and the Origins of Italian Communism, Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Campione, Daniel (ed.) 2007, Buenos Aires – Moscú – Buenos Aires: Los comunistas argentinos y la Tercera internacional, primera parte (1921–1926), Buenos Aires: Ediciones CCC Floreal Gorini.

Cannon, James P. 1973, The First Ten Years of American Communism, New York: Pathfinder Press.

Carr, E.H. 1966, The Bolshevik Revolution 1917–1923, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.

Chaqueri, Cosroe 1995, The Soviet Socialist Republic of Iran, 1920-1921: Birth of the Trauma. Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Press.

——— 2010, The Left in Iran 1905-1940, London: Merlin Press

Chesneaux, Jean 1968, The Chinese Labor Movement, 1919–1927, Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Claudín, Fernando 1975, The Communist Movement: From Comintern to Cominform, 2 volumes, New York: Monthly Review Press.

Cliff, Tony 1979, The Bolsheviks and World Communism, in Lenin, Volume 4, London: Pluto Press.

Cohen, Stephen 1973, Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Political Biography 1888–1938, New York: Knopf.

Comintern 1970 [1922], The First Congress of the Toilers of the Far East, London: Hammersmith.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) History Commission 2005, History of the Communist Movement in India, New Delhi: CPI(M) Publications.

Communist Party of Italy 1922, Manifesti ed altri documenti politici, Roma: Libreria Editrice del Partito Comunista d’Italia.

Cornell, Richard 1982, Revolutionary Vanguard: The Early Years of the Communist Youth International 1914–1924, Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Cortesi, Luigi 1999, Le Origini del PCI, Milan: FrancoAngeli.

——— 2010, Storia del comunismo: Da utopia al Termidoro sovietico, Rome: Manifestolibri.

Courtois, Stéphane 1995, Histoire du Parti communiste français, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

Cvetković, Slavoljub 1985, Idejne borbe u Komunističkoi partiji Jugoslavije (1919–1928), Belgrade: Institut za Savremenu Istoriju.

Dahlmann, F.E. 1844, The History of the English Revolution, London: Longman.Datta Gupta, Sobhanlal 1980, Comintern, India and the Colonial Question, Calcutta: Centre for Studies in Social Sciences.——— 2006, Comintern and the Destiny of Communism in India: 1919–1943: Dialectics of Real and a Possible History, Calcutta: Sreejoni.

Day, Richard B. 1973, Leon Trotsky and the Politics of Economic Isolation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

De Weydenthal, Jan B. 1978, The Communists of Poland: An Historical Outline, Stanford: Hoover Institution Press.

Degras, Jane 1951, Soviet Documents on Foreign Policy, London: Oxford University Press.

Di Biagio, Anna 2004, Coesistenza e isolazionismo: Mosca, il Komintern e l’Europa di Versailles (1918–1928), Rome: Carocci Editore.

Digby, Margaret 1982, The World Co-operative Movement, London: Hutchinson’s University Library.

Dirlik, Arif 1989, The Origins of Chinese Communism, New York: Oxford University Press.

Dobbs, Farrell 1983, Revolutionary Continuity: Birth of the Communist Movement 1918–1922, New York: Monad Press.

Dornemann, Luise 1973, Clara Zetkin: Leben und Wirken, Berlin: Dietz Verlag.

Drachkovitch, Milorad M. and Branko M. Lazić (eds.) 1966, The Comintern; Historical Highlights, Essays, Recollections, Documents, New York: Praeger.

Draper, Theodore 1957, The Roots of American Communism, New York: Viking Press.

Dreyfus, Michel et al. 2000, Le Siècle des communismes, Paris: Éditions Ouvrières.

Droz, Jacques 1977, Histoire générale du socialisme, Volume 3, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

Ducoulombier, Romain 2010, Camarades! La naissance du Parti communiste en France, Paris: Librairie Académique Perrin.

Dulles, John W.F. 1973, Anarchists and Communists in Brazil, 1900–1935, Austin: University of Texas Press.

Dziewanowski, M.K. 1976, The Communist Party of Poland: An Outline of History, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Fayet, Jean-François 2004, Karl Radek (1885–1939): Biographie politique, Bern: P. Lang.

——— 2008, ‘Paul Levi and the Turning Point of 1921’, in Bolshevism, Stalinism and the Comintern, edited by Norman LaPorte, Matthew Worley, and Kevin Morgan, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Feigon, Lee 1983, Chen Duxiu, Founder of the Chinese Communist Party, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Fernbach, David (ed.) 2011, In the Steps of Rosa Luxemburg: Selected Writings of Paul Levi, Historical Materialism Book Series, Leiden: Brill.

Fiori, Giuseppe 1971, Antonio Gramsci: Life of a Revolutionary, New York: Dutton.

Firsov, F.I. 1975, Tretii kongress Kominterna: Razvitie kongressom politicheskoi linii kommunisticheskogo dvizheniia, kommunisty i massy, Moscow: Politizdat.

——— 2007, Sekretnye kody istorii Kominterna 1919–1943, Moscow: AIRO-XXI.

Fischer, Ruth 1948, Stalin and German Communism, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Flechtheim, Ossip Kurt 1969, Die KPD in der Weimarer Republik, Frankfurt: Europäische Verlagsanstalt.

Frank, Pierre 1979, Histoire de l’Internationale communiste, 1919–1943, Paris: La Brèche.

Frölich, Paul 2012 [1921], Autobiographie 1890-1921: Parcours d’un militant internationaliste allemand, Montreuil: Science Marxiste.

Fuhrer, Armin 2011, Ernst Thälmann : Soldat des Proletariats, München: Olzog.

Galli, Giorgio 1980, Storia del socialismo italiano, Rome: Laterza.

——— 1993, Storia del PCI: Livorno 1921, Rimini 1991, Milan: Kaos Edizioni.

Geyer, Curt 1976, Die revolutionäre Illusion: Zur Geschichte des linken Flügels der USPD, Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt.

Gilberg, Trond 1973, The Soviet Communist Party and Scandinavian Communism: The Norwegian Case, Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.

Goldbach, Marie-Luise 1973, Karl Radek und die deutsch-sowjetischen Beziehungen 1918–1923, Bonn: Verlag Neue Gesellschaft.

Gollan, Robin 1975, Revolutionaries and Reformists: Communism and the Australian Labour Movement 1920–1955, Surrey: Richmond Publishing.

Gorter, Herman 1920, Open Letter to Comrade Lenin: <>

——— 1921, Die Klassenkampf-Organisation des Proletariats, Berlin: KAPD.

Gramsci, Antonio 1974, Socialismo e fascismo: L’Ordine nuovo 1921–1922, Turin: Einaudi.

Gras, Christian 1971, Alfred Rosmer (1877–1964) et le mouvement révolutionnaire international, Paris: François Maspéro.

Gross, Babette 1991, Willi Münzenberg: eine politische Biografie, Leipzig: Forum.

Gruber, Helmut and Pamela Graves 1998, Women and Socialism, Socialism and Women: Europe Between the Two World Wars, New York: Berghahn Books.

Gutjahr, Wolf-Dietrich 2012, Revolution muss sein: Karl Radek – Die Biographie, Cologne: Böhlau Verlag.

Hájek, Miloš 1969, Storia dell’Internazionale comunista (1921–1935): la política del fronte unico, Roma: Editori Riuniti.

Hájek, Miloš and Hana Mejdrová 1997, Die Entstehung der III. Internationale, Bremen: Edition Temmen.

Hallas, Duncan 1985, The Comintern, London: Bookmarks.

Harris, George S. 1967, The Origins of Communism in Turkey, Stanford: Hoover Institution Press.

Haywood, William 1929, Bill Haywood’s Book, New York: International Publishers.

Held, Walter 1942, ‘Why the German Revolution Failed’, Fourth International, December 1942, January 1943

Hilferding, Rudolf 1919, Der Weg zum Sozialismus, Vienna: Volksbuchhandlung.

Hodgson, John H. 1967, Communism in Finland: A History and Interpretation, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Hoelz, Max, 1930, From White Cross to Red Flag, London: Jonathan Cape.

Horowitz, Daniel L. 1963, The Italian Labor Movement, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Howe, Irving and Lewis Coser 1957, The American Communist Party: A Critical History, 1919–1957, Boston: Beacon Press.

International Labour Office 1921: First Special International Trade Union Congress, Geneva: ILO.

International Socialist Congress 1967, The Second and Third Internationals and the Vienna Union: Official Report of the Conference between the Executives, held at the Reichstag, Berlin, on the 2nd April, 1922, and the Following Days, Milan: Feltrinelli.

International Working Union of Socialist Parties 1921. Protokoll der internationaler sozialistischen Konferenz in Wien von 22. bis 27. Februar 1921. Vienna: Wiener Volksbuchhandlung

Ismael, Tareq Y. and Rifat Saïd 1990, The Communist Movement in Egypt, 1920–1988, Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.

Izquierdo, Manuel 1995, La Tercera Internacional en España: 1914–1923, Madrid: Ediciones Endymión.

Jackson, George D. 1966, Comintern and Peasant in East Europe, 1919–1930, New York: Columbia University Press.

Jentsch, Harald 1993, Die politische Theorie August Thalheimers, 1919–1923, Mainz: Decaton.

Kalmykov, N.P. 1998, Komintern i Latinskaia Amerika: sbornik dokumentov, Moscow: Nauka.

KAPD 1921, Der Weg des Dr Levi der Weg der VKPD, Berlin: KAPD.

Kessler, Mario 2013, Ruth Fischer: Ein Leben mit und gegen Kommunisten (1895–1961), Vienna: Böhlau Verlag.

King, Robert R. 1980, A History of the Romanian Communist Party, Stanford: Hoover Institution Press.

Kinner, Klaus and Elke Reuter 1999, Der deutsche Kommunismus: Selbstverständnis und Realität, Berlin: Dietz Verlag.

Klugmann, James 1968, History of the Communist Party of Great Britain, Volume 1: Formation and Early Years 1919–1924, London: Lawrence & Wishart.

Knatz, C. 2000, Ein Heer im grünen Rock? Der Mitteldeutsche Aufstand 1921, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.

Koch-Baumgarten, Sigrid 1986, Aufstand der Avantgarde: Die Märzaktion der KPD 1921, Frankfurt: Campus Verlag.

König, Helmut 1967, Lenin und der italienische Sozialismus 1915–1921, Tübingen: Böhlau Verlag.

Kopeček, Michal and Zdeněk Kárník 2003, Bolševismus, komunismus a radikální socialismus v Československu, Prague: Ústav pro soudobé dějiny AV ČR.

Kössler, Reinhart 1982, Dritte Internationale und Bauernrevolution: Die Herausbildung des sowjetischen Marxismus in der Debatte um die “asiatische” Produktionsweise, Frankfurt: Campus Verlag.

Kovrig, Bennett 1979, Communism in Hungary from Kun to Kádár, Stanford: Hoover Institution Press.

Krause, Hartfrid 1975, USPD: Zur Geschichte der Unabhängigen Sozialdemokratischen Partei Deutschlands, Frankfurt am Main: Europäische Verlagsanstalt.

Kublin, Hyman 1964, Asian Revolutionary: The Life of Sen Katayama, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Kuo Heng-yü and M.L. Titarenko (eds.) 1996, RKP(B), Komintern und die national-revolutionäre Bewegung in China: dokumente, Volume 1 (1920–1925), Paderborn: F. Schöningh.

Kurella, Alfred 1970 [1929–31], Der Kampf um die Massen, in Schüller, R. et al., Geschichte der Kommunistischen Jugendinternationale, Volume 2, Nördlingen: Trikont.

Labour and Socialist International 1920, The Congress of the Labour and Socialist International (Geneva, July 31st–August 6th, 1920), Geneva: International Labour Office.

Langer, Bernd 2009, Revolution und bewaffnete Aufstände in Deutschland 1919–1923, Göttingen: AktivDruck.

LaPorte, Norman, Matthew Worley, and Kevin Morgan (eds.) 2008, Bolshevism, Stalinism and the Comintern, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Lazitch, Branko and Milorad Drachkovitch 1972, Lenin and the Comintern, Stanford: Hoover Institution Press.

Lebedeva, N.S., Kimmo Rentola, and T. Saarela (eds.) 2003, Komintern i Finlandia: 1919–1943, Moscow: Nauka.

Lenin, V.I. 1958–65, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii (PSS), Moscow: Gosizdat.

——— 1960–71, Collected Works (LCW), 45 volumes, Moscow: Progress Publishers.

Leonhard, Wolfgang 1981, Völker hört die Signale: Die Anfänge des Weltkommunismus 1919–1924, Munich: Bertelsmann.

Lerner, Warren 1970, Karl Radek, the Last Internationalist, Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Levi, Paul 1921a, Der Beginn der Krise in der Kommunistischen Partei und Internationale. Rede von Paul Levi auf der Sitzung des Zentralauschusses der V.K.P.D. am 24. Februar 1921, Remscheid.

——— 1921b, Unser Weg: Wider den Putschismus, Berlin: A. Seehof. For translation see Fernbach (ed.) 2011.

——— 1921c, Was ist das Verbrechen? Die Märzaktion oder die Kritik daran? Berlin. For translation see Fernbach (ed.) 2011.

——— Selected writings, see Fernbach (ed.), 2011.

Leviné-Meyer, Rosa 1977, Inside German Communism: Memoirs of Party Life in the Weimar Republic, London: Pluto Press.

Lewis, Ben, and Lars T. Lih (eds.) 2011, Zinoviev and Martov: Head to Head in Halle, London: November Publications.

Li Yuzhen and Du Weihua (eds.) 1989, Malin yu diyici guogong hezuo [Maring (Sneevliet) and the first period of cooperation between the Guomindang and the Communists], Beijing: Guangming Ribao Chubanshe.

Lorenz, Einhart 1978, Norwegische Arbeiterbewegung und Kommunistische Internationale 1919–1930, Oslo: Pax Forlag.

Löwy, Michael 1980, Le Marxisme en Amérique Latine de 1909 à nos jours, Paris: François Maspéro.

Luks, Leonid 1985, Entstehung der kommunistischen Faschismustheorie: die Auseindersetzung der Komintern mit Faschismus und Nationalsozialismus 1921–1935, Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlagsanstalt.

Luxemburg, Rosa 2004, The Rosa Luxemburg Reader, edited by Peter Hudis and Kevin B. Anderson, New York: Monthly Review Press.

MacFarlane, L.J. 1966, The British Communist Party: Its Origin and Development until 1929, Worcester, UK: MacGibbon and Kee.

Malatesta, Alberto 1926, I socialisti italiani durante la Guerra, Milan: Mondadori.

Mallmann, Klaus-Michael, Kommunisten in der Weimarer Republik: Sozialgeschichte einer revolutionären Bewegung, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.

Mamaeva, N.L., 1999, Komintern i Gomin’dan: 1919–1929, Moscow: ROSSPEN.

Martinelli, Renzo, 1977, Il Partito comunista d’Italia, 1921–1926: Politica e organizzazione, Rome: Editori Riuniti.

Marx, Karl 1977–81, Capital, 3 volumes, New York: Vintage Books.

——— and Frederick Engels 1975–2004, Collected Works (MECW), Moscow: Progress Publishers.

Maurseth, Per 1972, Fra moskvateser til Kristiania-forslag: Det norske Arbeiderparti og Komintern fra 1921 til februar 1923, Oslo: Pax Forlag.

Mayenburg, Ruth von 1991, Hotel Lux: das Absteigequartier der Weltrevolution, Munich: Piper.

McDermott, Kevin 1988, The Czech Red Unions, 1918–1929, Boulder: East European Monographs.

——— and Jeremy Agnew 1996, The Comintern: A History of International Communism from Lenin to Stalin, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

McVey, Ruth T. 1965, The Rise of Indonesian Communism, Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Meaker, Gerald H. 1974, The Revolutionary Left in Spain, 1914–23, Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Mehring, Franz 1960, Geschichte der deutschen Sozial-demokratie, Berlin: Dietz Verlag.

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  1. Ken Hiebert permalink

    Throughout the text are links to notes, beginning with [1]. But the notes at bottom begin with 54. Am I missing something? ken h


    • Well done, Ken! You fired off your question almost before I got the text posted!
      The problem is that this overlong article is posted in two parts. I put up part 2 before part 1. That may seem perverse, but it assures that part 1 sits above part 2 in the blog’s scroll of posts.

      I bet you started with part 2 before part 1 was posted.

      By the way, you’ll see that I’ve added a number of navigational features to help you find your way through the material. All that was new to me. Suggestions and criticisms welcome! I hope your managing well through this ominously persistent pandemic. John

  2. Anne McShane permalink

    A really rich, critical and nuanced history John.
    It helped me to understand the complexity of the movement at that time and the pressures to make revolution even when conditions did not exist. Thanks

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